Poetry Blog by John E Marks

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Forget me not blue

As an Alaskan blueberry

Endurance is a flower

A bulb in winter’s depth

A rare-repeated wonder:

A sin we must forget.

In this-world-of-my-creation

In this world-of-make-believe:

Cancer, the death of children,

Are falling autumn leaves.


I see a road before me

A  road I walk in vain

A road through Trawden, Lancashire

A road that’s no...

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Beneath this beach of sand and shells

I see the image of the rolling sea.

Such new-found-land frames and hides

These wide horizons; I walk along the cliff:

Sheer drop upon the windward side,

Embedded trilobites, beneath my feet

Quartz and Muscovite from the granite

Weathered by the winds and waves

Sea-formed outcrops, hidden rocks, caves.

Time carves the face of all mank...

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These fingers point at letters

Those letters point at words

And then the disturbance -



My love she was a vixen

And howled in the night

Those feelings they just left me -



The mourning which continues

Throughout decades, in a line,

My lover she engages me -

In time.


These swirling skies of fortune,

The lakes’ grey and white despair...

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Bullet points


In England's fields few poppies grow, Chemical fertilisers have seen to that The land is still owned by the same fey aristocrats Who’ve plundered and marauded for untold centuries. On the slivers of common land that remain The common sparrows still bravely sing, Scarce heard amid the empty political posturing. No-one listens to the Glorious Dead. Lip service only. Instead, if ...

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For Anna Akhmatova

The guest was uninvited but arrived anyway

In this universe of moulding, he is the clay.

The freezing blizzard of my heart departs

As I look out of my window into this universe of things

And, for a micro-second, my wounded heart sings

With love and with the lack of love,

With all we seek to find

With memories buried in

This golgotha mind of mine.

I am no different, thoug...

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Morning Glory


Tell the truth, but tell it slant. Emily Dickinson

Born, bloom, die

All in the one day

Blur a glass darkly,

Drifting away.


A physician’s proof of death,

Marked by a girlhood’s fleeting fancy,

A garden romance

A moonlit dance

With Chopin playing lightly

A nocturne.

And no rectangular wooden box

To be seen.


Instead a thing with feathers


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O! daughter dear, on this mid-western afternoon,

When I can see all the way to Sacramento, I cry

For you, Ariel-blue, in all your golden-girlhood

Too lovely for a life of pettiness and strife were

You. You caught a boat to England, never returned.

No Nazi goblin me, an extraordinary Jew like you,

Beautifully clever Ariel-blue. And, maybe I didn’t talk

To you like I yearned...

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The Unwritten

entry picture

The times of wonder have gone

The wise women drugged

Into submission.

Forensic psychology reveals traces

Of long-forgotten faces

Which, much like Munch's silent scream,

Degenerate into nightmaredream.

Desire, in all its lurid manifestations,

Falls into disuse,

And all is as it was before:

A flat, grey concrete floor

Krema I at Auschwitz

Eminently productive


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Censorship is to art as lynching is to justice.



Circumstances compel me speak

Ye gods, (for you have them);

From the first of the world

Down to our own time

Don’t frown, don’t shake your head,

Listen to this elegy for a passing time instead.,

A soldier silenced, banned, expelled, made dead.

While life continues, makes the crops no longer joyous.

The sheep forgot, the cattle, bees unkept.

Be thrifty with ...

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Those words you don’t remember,
Wind tearing through the sky,
Your soul is packed with fortitude
While sparks fly.


The coals flare into flames, a pettiness
Of heat. Suddenly, replete: golden sands,
Crystal brooks, silken lines, silver hooks.
Glimpsing what’s already there,
She begins to mount the stairs.

Who cares?


Say, a friend you trust implicitly,
A lover you migh...

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As blue as robins' eggs

Memories bring me just diamonds and rust

Nothing more.

Though time's chasm opens before my sight,

And the vertigo returns with the Lapis Lazuli,

I will devote some time to resurrecting the lived poetry

Of the Byzantimes, Persians, Armenians, Assyrians.

Each civilization alloted supreme value to the blue of lapis lazuli.

Lapis lazuli was used in the funeral mask of Tutankhamun ...

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....early onset


The blue is missing from the sky today

the trees have no leaves

outside it is very cold

the wind is cruel.

There is a person

in front of me

i don't know who it is.

I remember playing out

with my sisters 

on a skipping rope.

It is cold inside,

that lady told me it is morning,

that is why I stretch and yawn.

The lady said I had a visitor

i was frightene...

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The speech of angels

Photo by Marius Masalar on Unsplash


“Without music, life would be a mistake” ― Friedrich Nietzsche


A waterfall of notes, rising, descending,

Splashing into my mind, heart, soul.

Music will never grow old.

An arpeggio series of broken chords 

In and out of order, splintering, teasing the ear. 

Plunging into minor keys, soaring into waves of luminosity.

Notes th...

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Mind the gap: Work-in-progress

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She's the flinger of plurabilly teas,

She was, once-upon-a-golden-time;

And a good time it was two,

Despite the old hairy gobeen man,

Who was a-coming down a road,

drinking from a can.

She met a nice-uns-little boy name Baby Tookoo,

Her mother slopped her drat story.

Her rather had a leery face:

Sin, sin, Jesuitical-sin


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(for Kathy 1940–2019)

Photo by Marcus Cramer on Unsplash


She was close to death — 

her loved ones bereft.

I read between the lines,

just a habit of mind,

then looked again,

out of the side of my eye:

more and more, as time passes by

what we perceive

we half-create.

Buried in the earth,

she's still looking at the sky,

a rumble of thunder,

passing b...

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Late October

Dripping into what passes for daylight
In these northern climes,

The moon fades, wind and rain shower,
Trees sway, on this formless holiday
Light, such as it is, tucks away dream,

Children — washed, tired, pale -
Know it’s Halloween
I know it well:
Tired ghosts forget to rise again,
Witches stagger into view
As all their magic fades away.

Clogged motors roar
As the October mist l...

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Fire fly

Out of all this mush,

With a little bit of a push,

Emerge fire fly.

O! fly so high firefly,

Illuminate the sky, firefly

Take a break, firefly;

Phosphorescence on the lake,

Fires fly

Float over the image of moon,

The lapping of the lake

Firefly, a soft-bodied beetle,

Firefly, related to the glow-worm,

The winged male and flightless female

Both have luminesce...

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In the silence of the Kurds

Kurdish poets with military experience have fallen silent and I am bereft;

Poetry has always been the main pillar of Kurdish literature

The fight for their land and the fight for their identity are the same.

The Kurds are not divorced from the west - Eliot's influence on al-Sayyab  for example -

And the hot wave from Arabia did not destroy the Kurds, many are Christian, Ezedi and secul...

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Season of mists

The cold autumn rain falls full in my face,

wet westerlies come with a trace of winter;

as I walk, I take account of my losses.

My mind drifts into the past:

a phantasmagoria of well-remembered faces

tumble into the valley of the shadow of death.

Phantoms afloat, all around me, looking quizzically

at the remains of a life long left or soonest parted.

The trees of this woodl...

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Whining poetry

The Gracehoper was always jigging ajog, hoppy on akkant of his joyicity.

James Joyce, Finnegans Wake


Complain with the full force of a Jesuit priest

Whine like a man who knows he's out of time

Casuistry and sophistry work together perfectly.

But poetry's more about the wine than the whining

About seeking to express the inexpressible

Whilst complaining about just how dif...

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A turbulence of dalliance

Words we remember,

Echo in the brain,

Bouncing off the surfaces:

A few will remain.

Wind rises around the window pane,

Blowing a northerly gale,

A rain-splattered man, with a sorry, sorry tale,

Inhabits the soul beside me, half-way to hell.

His tale is built on lies, my friend,

Deceptions ripe and drear,

Tales we tell to children

When their eyes overflow with fear.


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Tell the truth, but tell it slant. Emily Dickinson


Born, bloom, die

All in the one day

Blurs a glass darkly

A physician’s proof of breath

Marked by her girlhood’s fleeting fancy

Of a garden romance

A moonlit dance

With Chopin playing lightly

In the darkness

And no rectangular wooden box

To be seen

Instead a thing with feathers

Whistles through my head


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The rags of time

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The guttering rain of home 

Stains my memory

Longer than churches


Is it duty to devotion

Or devotion to duty that keeps

Me standing in this field of ripe poppies?

I don't know

How can we translate this chaos

Into words?

The grammar of suffering

Is indecipherable.

Lost in translation

Faith no longer floods my mind

My mind reminds me

That my veins ...

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speech of angels

entry picture

"Without music, life would be a mistake” ― Friedrich Nietzsche 




A waterfall of notes, rising, falling, 

Splashing into mind, heart, soul. 

Music that will never grow old. 

Arpeggio series of broken chords rising descending

Into and out of order. Plunging into minor keys, rising into waves of luminosity.

Notes that compose a chord create harmonies of the heart. Plan...

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You never cross the bridge,

On the verge of doubt

You withdraw

Retreat from the river

Jump into dreamland

Tuck yourself into shade

Answer questions in a perfunctory manner

And look,  I, too, was tired and broken

Dedicated to existing 

Long enough to kiss the sun


I remember a man, a son of Zoroaster

So unlike the tired stranger I became.

I wish I k...

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Impermanent things

The Moors' last laugh

My daughters mean the world to me

To keep them safe is my whole intent

But in a time of war can fathers truly

Protect daughters? I used to be happy,

So cheerful, so easy in my cares.

But now I hate the moonlight

I am scared to be taken unawares.

We are occupied now by  Christian armies.

But we keep Muhamed close to our hearts

Whilst professin...

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A wise fool




Bewildered, at the things he left unsaid,

Serendipity, chances offered, all cut dead:

Wise enough to play the fool.

I guess.

A vicious wind slices through me,

Here on this January night:

Put out the light and then put out the light

Memory cuts through the cold remains of the day

Parcels it up, so the day wont drift away.

Signs hidden by an iron fog bec...

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Tipping point


Photo by Danny Schleicher on Unsplash


We’ve reached a tipping point — 

As the Arctic melts and Amazonia burns — 

Acid rain strips the trees — 

Plastic fantastic — two billion tons of indestructible shit –

A deathly cocktail of chemicals

Billowing out of chemical factories across the globe,

Billowing out tons of pestilential fug:

Diesel passing poison straight ...

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They're burning Amazonia

The pungent smell of carnations sends me back

To summer days spent wending my time away

As dandelions mimic the gawdy sun

And the pebbles in my pockets are reserved for skimming water.

A heavy incense melds with the patchouli oil

Sweating for his mortal soul

Mixing an amorous mescaline tincture

Pale and milky, resistant like a heavy oak door

The frozen moment of a kiss


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"Spain, under Arab rule, became the most civilized country in the world."

 Max Dimont,The Amazing Adventures of the Jewish People, Behrman House, 1995, p. 81

Arabic spoken in Andalusia,

after 400 years of the inquisition.

Muslim houses, in Bosnian villages,

with crosses on display

despite the threat of apostasy.

..........And slay them wherever you come upon them: Surah-Al...

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A home I never had

Serendipity came my way, on a blowy Lancaster day

Blown in all the way from Cal-i-forni-i-a, an idea of a girl

That I kept in my head, long after she was dead 

Except in great extremity when I'd gamble all that I had

On her not being sad. But, maybe, I was wrong and Jenny

Had sung a bitter-bitter-song. A song of her declining days

Drifting into a frustration-opoid-filled Palo Alt...

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Morning maniac music

Shakes me awake

The regular guys

Those who once brought hope

Now bring hate.


Over the mountain,

the clouds scud away

blood on the floor

it's all fading away.


Blood on the soul,

and blood over water

All those refugees 

we oughter.....

stick 'em in the camps

and camp'em on the shelf

of our conscience



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Dark Star

Falling in love

Beats falling in line

What is our derivative today

A bluesy-chime?


In this curve of time

We need a degree of differentiation

To establish our rate of change

With respect to time.


There are a number of ways

To fix this derivative:

In the end they all amount to the same



In the fourth dimension

The grad...

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Moon, moon


Moon came to an old Cheshire mere,
In all her shadowy finery.
This boy cannot stop looking
And looking and looking at pretty Missy Moon.
Thunder growls on this high summer eve,
Missy Moon shows off her talents,
Her rounded suppleness of form
Shows us all her shades and shadows and crevices.
Toing-and-froing the moon swings like an old nursery rhyme
Moonlight flows and flows and t...

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The beautiful Cathars of Languedoc




The ideas of the beautiful Cathars of Languedoc spread across western Europe

Cathar comes from the Greek: καθαροί, katharoi, “the pure [ones]”

They built on the dualistic theology of Manichaenism

Which they blended with the eastern Christianity of Byzantium

They were ascetic: believing the matetial world was the evil realm of Satan

Whilst the world of the spirit w...

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The Last Judgement


At the end of time I will rise

Like today, go about my business

Talk to children, smile sometimes.


The sky - the real sky - shall shelter

And storm the earth still. Black soil shall

Breed many Satans still.

Azure clouds from which no rain falls

Shall mass on far horizons.


Large drops of rain shall fall, freezing into ice,

Falling into full sunshine.


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The winter-sharp brains of children 
Took a turn for the worse,
Suffered an inferiority complex

Caused by all the old men: quick to criticise, slow to help.. 

Dispersed, triumphant solely in their dreams.
Children running across raging seas danced on the waves. 

Such a storm-blessed salty awakening.
They had nothing to regret. 
They were children who coped with HIV, nursed t...

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Photo by Tom Butler on Unsplash


Missing the wildness of the beautiful

We degenerate into words. Waiting, between

Sentences, for the Muse to catch up with us,

We fulminate, flash like lightning, explode so

Violently that I catch myself thinking this

Is an all an act to compensate for the time

My friend climbed that tree before disappearing

To Japan for all eter...

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i.m. Paul Leon

"`He was courteous but very silent. He was good with children. His eyesight may have been impaired, but he had an ear open to the world." This is how Alex Leon recalls James Joyce, who, between 1928 and 1939 was an almost daily visitor to his family's flat on the rue Casimir-Perier in Paris. Joyce came to consult with Alex's father, Paul Leon..." 'The Irish Times', Thu, Oct 29, 1998


A ...

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Photo by Wayne Chan on Unsplash

(for Cathy)

If all the days of all the years were made of wine and gold
They’d be present in the light of intelligence in this one dog’s eyes.
This friendship across species — a Buddhist mantra –
Rocks me like a good old boy, befriends me like the rain.
He’ll be with me when the gates fly open — his love will never end.
Seek out the depths, the s...

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The season of the witch


moments of the past

fall flat

memories do not last:

kicking leaves

in stormy-autumn 

tumbling heaps, red, gold and brown

deep-set colours all around

echoing the silent dread

of  the day of the dead.

A memory-lost, a memory-found,

storm-tossed words,

all around,


but never said:

regrets of a life misled.

Dust-motes float

around my head,


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Echoes of history

Passing these whiter shades of pale, these pretty traces of lace,

We reveal the opal-luminosity of these few remaining late Romans,

Their indigo-dreams red with the gore of resistance on this bloody

May Day, negating their absorption into the timeless air of antiquity,

Through the thousand year creation of Constantinople’s drift and swell,

Rising into Elysium’s perfumed garden ...

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An old-fashioned sonority


My friend is dead.

I met him here

He was wise,

But he was not clear

About anything - afar or near.

For which I was grateful.

I try to hold him clear in mind -

on the random wildwind strain

where we hear old notes playing -

I maintain the glory of his voice, his name,

But I have a sick dread of a fading

Time, unmaintained by love or rhyme.


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At the wedding of the dead

I went to see a dead man's wedding today.

I can sing again, some may say,

Even if the bridegroom cuts out his heart

And swears they'd never part

I'll plant a heart in the national park

But the NIMBYs would exclaim,

In addition flowers cannot bloom,

For the NIMBYs are in their 60s with no debts,

They think they'll live for ever

But between the layers of birdsong death i...

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You may want to be a rose,

You are beautiful enough,

and your perfume makes me faint

Heady it is  in that one garden,

Where the best woman in the world

Works like a peasant, smiling, striving,

The trimming of the hedges,

If I was a sculptor there would be statues

To remember you as a young woman

But I am a dreamer and I only remember every inch of you

Just as the w...

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We wake to the rumbling thunder of blood,
Pumping hearts, twisted hearts, this shadow and I
Squeeze into these thick silences of trees.
Soon the dark lights of Christmastide afflict us
Twilight memories drift, flux and flicker
In this breeze of Time,
Penumbra-beginning hologram-end, my friend,
Such pungent affirmations, slip into the past:
Generations of suffering: eyes lifted to...

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A Sufi Saint contemplates his imminent dissolution

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Goodbye my Sufi friends and lovers

Nothing now exists to connect you to me

Tayyar is honourable and full of good intent

I will rise from the trap of the world

I will ask you to be my servant in paradise

You are my dancer, I am your poet, we can laugh

Together on days when I taste the rain-drift-clouds.

When you sew I can watch you and fall in love

Again I remember our ...

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The pure nectar of this moment

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Shout it out or whisper it secretly in my ear

Tell me all the things I will never want to hear:

Tell me how Sharia law liberates the maid:

Tell me how nationalism is patriotism writ large;

Tell me how exactly and who it is that Jesus saves.

Now I’ll tell you our lives are way too crammed with things

How we need to let go if we want to hear the s...

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We Sumerians in Mesopotamia

Our time in Erbil was short

We heard that in Mosul

The fascist’s love of power

Was enforced by knife and fist and gun.

Our time in Nineveh had begun,

Long, long beneath the sun.

With Dwekh Nawsha

It was a time for self-sacrifice

A time to break the deadly silence of terror

And now, again,  church bells ring in Nineveh

WE have changed fate.

We the ancient Assyrian p...

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kind of blue

john coltrane in my mind, a war companion in my head

miles davis not far behind, it's the kind of blue that rhymes

a mixing that's complex and true: a rippling of the genes,

a resurrection of memory, a breaking of the heart

a saxophone screeches us apart, a wail, a scream,

blue-lightening flashing, it's more than a blue-tinged dream,

billie holiday, lady day, tears out my soul


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